Protect Your Smile from Gum Disease
Gum disease occurs when bacteria builds up in the mouth. While gum disease is common, it is essential that patients take preventive measures and seek treatment as soon as possible to prevent widespread damage to their oral health. Dr. Mike Meek and Dr. David J. Tasch of 38th Street Dental in Austin, TX, carefully screen each of their patients for periodontal disease and refer those who suffer from it to a trusted gum specialist, called a periodontist. Our doctors know that early detection can make treatment much simpler and more predictable.
What Is Gum Disease?
Gum disease can refer to any one of several types of diseases of the gingival tissues. However, it usually refers to a specific and very common form of the disease, called periodontitis, or periodontal disease. Nearly half of all Americans aged 30 and over have periodontitis, according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
This chronic inflammatory condition affects not only the gum tissue but also the underlying bone that supports the teeth. Left untreated, it can cause tooth loss. In addition, periodontal disease is associated with several serious systemic conditions, including cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
What Causes Periodontitis?
Periodontitis is caused by a clear, sticky substance that forms on the teeth, called bacterial plaque. The bacteria in the plaque excrete toxins that irritate the gum tissues, leading to red and swollen tissues when you brush your teeth. This is known as gingival inflammation, or gingivitis.
Gingivitis can be reversed by removing the plaque, but if allowed to progress, it will spread to the underlying tissues, resulting in the loss of supporting bone and soft tissues. The deep pockets that form between the gum and tooth indicate the presence of periodontal disease. At this stage, it is no longer reversible and requires treatment. If left untreated, it can progress in severity from mild to moderate, as well as severe.
Treatment for Gum Disease
It is essential to treat gum disease before beginning any other type of dental treatment. Our doctors treat gum disease by performing a special type of cleaning, known as deep cleaning, or scaling and root planing. This procedure involves removing plaque and bacteria from the tooth surface and gum line, and then smoothing the root surface to ensure bacteria can no longer develop. Often, this procedure will halt the disease progress, and no further treatment will be required. In more severe cases, gum surgery may be required.
Our doctors will always recommend saving a tooth before choosing extraction. However, it is sometimes best to extract an infected tooth and replace it with a dental implant. If multiple teeth are in need of treatment, the best course of action may be to proceed with a full mouth reconstruction. In serious cases, these procedures can ensure complete oral health with a predictable outcome and an attractive smile.
How Can I Prevent Gum Disease?
Since gum disease is caused by bacterial plaque, the easiest way to avoid gum disease is to remove all plaque from your teeth daily. This will prevent not only the onset of periodontal disease but also cavities. To keep your teeth plaque-free, thoroughly brush your teeth at least twice daily—and more often, if possible. Patients should use a soft-bristled brush and pay special attention to the areas near the gum line.
While gum disease is common, it is essential that patients take preventive measures and seek treatment as soon as possible to prevent widespread damage.
In addition, it is important to floss each day. Only dental floss can remove plaque at the gum line in between the teeth, where gum disease most commonly occurs. It is also important to visit your dentist and hygienist at 38th Street Dental every six months for your exam, cleaning, and fluoride treatment. These preventive services will help keep your teeth clean and healthy.
Schedule Your Check-up Today
If you are concerned you may have gum disease, or need to schedule your dental exam and cleaning, contact the experts at 38th Street Dental. You can reach us at (512) 458-6222 or by sending us a message online.